Slice of Life: When We Used to Fill the Book Bags

(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)

Write, Share, Give

I took my youngest son to the public library yesterday and it was there that I had one of those memory moments. Years ago, when all three boys were younger, I used to bring them to the library regularly, and we would spend at least an hour or so in the children’s section, reading stories, playing blocks, watching fish, and choosing books to bring home. It was not unusual for me to lug home a bag filled with 25 or more picture books. I’d drop the bag on the floor, and let the books spill out, and the kids would sit in the midst, reading or looking at the bounty of stories.

Now, when the older boys join me at the library, they go upstairs to the adult section or the video section (or the adult graphic novel section). My youngest is still content to sit on the floor, and I found him yesterday reading some Garfield books while I perused the shelves of the Young Adult fiction novels. I then wandered into the picture book area, and listened furtively as a father read a book to his toddler son. I said hello to the fish. I remembered.

Of course, we grabbed a few books to borrow but nothing like the past, and I guess that’s OK. Still, I often have those pangs of remembering how the library used to be our regular place for literacy (particularly on those rainy days), and now as I think about the three boys and their abilities in reading and writing (all very strong), I like to think that our visits to the world of books and the regular stacks of stories we brought home to read together have had an influence on them. I know that to be true (and worry about my students whose families never entered their library or brought books home or read aloud to them when they were younger.)

I’m being wistful with this Slice of Life, but I am also grateful that we live in a place that has such rich public spaces for anyone to borrow all kinds of books. Libraries remain the rich heart of literacy, and even though our visits are less frequent, I know my boys realize the library is there for them, whenever they need something to read or something to explore, and I know they value our library as much as I do. Of that, I am certain.

Peace (in the stacks),

  1. Libraries are sacred and joyful places. You captured that sense of looking back wistfully while understanding the foundation’s been set. I share your concern for the ones who don’t know the love of a library and I make it a point to frequently haunt the one in our school.

  2. Oh how I loved this slice. My fondest memories of my now just 7 and 9 year old children are coming home with 25-30 picture books to pore over at night before bed. Sometimes I even read to them over breakfast. Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to reading your slices every single day.

  3. I could see you with your boys in tow loving the library’s potential for happy moments. I got wistful thinking that I don’t go very often at all these days – too busy – too much Amazon – too much Kindle…..The memories at the library of heads bouncing and smiles glowing is strong….even at home.

  4. Oh, Kevin, you brought me back to my mom bringing my brother and I to the public library each week when we were kids. Suddenly I could smell the books in the stacks. Such lovely spaces and memories libraries hold.

  5. Your post warmed this librarian’s heart! Libraries were a constant comfort growing up as a military brat, which no doubt led to my current career in the stacks. Your boys are lucky to have you model and support a love of reading. You have me looking forward to our upcoming summer visits to our public library.

  6. Your slice brought me right back to my childhood and how much I loved bringing home stacks of books from the library. When my children were younger, we would visit the library regularly also. Such wonderful ways to bond as a family!

  7. You brought me back to the library with my girls. Sometimes I go and read picture books by myself and listen to the interactions of other parents with young children. You are allowed to be wistful in an SOL post!

  8. Your slice brought back lots of memories. I still head to the library lots of Saturday afternoons. I pretend I’m working, but I’m really there to watch people read to their kids. And like you, I worry about the kids at my school that never get this experience with their families!

  9. This brought back so many memories of my mom walking my sister and I to the library once a week throughout the summer. I would always beg to check out stacks of books but she would only allow me three at the most. I think she knew that she would end up having to carry them the nine blocks home!

  10. I love the wistfulness of this. Teaching our children the importance of libraries is such a great gift. I love my library.

  11. Wonderful post, Kevin that brings me back to my little girl library visits with my Grandmother who didn’t speak English but had a great devotion to education.

  12. Just walking in to the library today, the smell takes me back to those days of story time. I spent all summer in the library with my girls. They held workshops for kids. I even led a few myself. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. Even my husband was involved. Thanks for the memory.

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